My earliest memory of what I now know to be self-sabotage began with my 4th grade #spellingbee. It’s difficult to recall much detail of the words I was called to spell that day, with the exception of the one word that would disqualify me from completing the first round.
So vividly, I remember CHOOSING to intentionally misspell one of the simplest words a fourth grader could know, due to my unbridled fear. I made it through an entire spelling bee only to intentionally bomb on the word “RADAR” because I could no longer withstand the #pressure of competing and speaking in front of a crowd of people. I could spell words like “onomatopoeia” and “facetious” with ease but chose the demise of my chance at winning my first spelling bee competition with a five-letter palindrome. I’d arrive to a finish line only to purposely not cross it because of fear.
I was an extremely timid child who secretly dealt with nagging feelings of inadequacy and low-self esteem. Although speaking in front of an audience was definitely not my forte, there were literally only 3 words left to spell, and I’d simply just given up. After being called off stage, I took my place in the audience where I silently spelled each remaining word correctly in my mind.
Later that day, I lied to my teacher and my mom regarding the fiasco by telling them “I don’t know what happened. I drew a blank,” although that couldn’t be further from the truth. I struggled with guilt and feelings of failure for days on end. That pattern of intentional self-defeat would continue following me for almost two full decades.